The message Rossland business owners sent to LCIC and Rossland council representatives during Tuesday’s Business Walk was that Rossland needs to attract more skilled labour, and more tourists.
Representatives from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, Rossland city council, Trail & District Chamber of Commerce, and the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC) visited Rossland businesses to hear their concerns and to learn what if anything can be done to help their businesses thrive in the Lowe Columbia region.
“The goal is to celebrate Small Business Week this week and to get out into the community to meet businesses, to let them know that we’re here, that there’s services available to help support them, get them to meet their new city council and the other economic development practitioners in our region who are there to support and help them,” said Terry Van Horn, economic development officer with the LCIC.
The Rossland Business Walk was the second walk in the region, the first having taken place in Trail on Monday.
So far businesses have brought up the need for skilled labour.
“Having quality skilled labour employees has been coming up quite regularly throughout both the communities,” said Van Horn.
But businesses weren’t just interested in attracting employees. They’re hoping that a solid marketing campaign for the region can help attract more people to live, work and play throughout the year.
“There certainly were some consistent comments,” said Councillor Andy Morel. “Bringing more people into the community so that the business community can prosper on a 12 month basis, so not just the winter season which has been the highlight of the community for decades.”
Representatives went out in teams of two, each one speaking to different businesses, so it’s significant that many of them reported similar comments.
“Most of them were focused on getting more customers, especially during the summer months,” said Larry Olsen, regional economic development manager with the ministry. “Winter is really good, but summer is a struggle, and there was a lot of suggestions for how to improve that.”
“They hoped that we would attract more people to the region of course, marketing always comes up in everything we do,” said Van Horn, “because of course we are a bit more remote that the average urban community, so being rural and tucked in the corner on the province, marketing comes up always.”
Businesses also shared what they considered to be pros in Rossland: the main street revitalization project, Tourism Rossland, and the new broadband being installed.
There was also a Business Walk in Fruitvale on Wednesday. Once all the date has been compiled, the LCIC will begin by creating a summary for each community.
“But our ultimate goal is to create a regional report,” said Van Horn.
The LCIC will report back to city councils and businesses that participated to share its findings.